Solar Tracker

Discussion in 'The Projects Forum' started by sunwarrior1993, Nov 21, 2013.

  1. sunwarrior1993

    Thread Starter New Member

    Nov 20, 2012
    3
    0
    Good day, everyone.

    I'm finishing high school this year, I have to develop a project to finish my technical course (Electronics, Automation and Computer Science).

    My project is a Solar Tracker, with the help of my professors we'll decide if have the chance to insert the X and Y axis for the solar panels.

    Let me break it down:
    - 6 solar panels, each produces 1.5V, that gives a total of 9V.
    - A 9.6V Ni-Cd battery pack will be used to store power, for further experiments in robotics or even powering other devices.
    - The battery can be charged by building a Ni-Cd battery charger.

    The charger circuit that my professor shared with me has a LM317 Ajustable Voltage Regulator.

    However, I'm concerned about the voltage regulation because I won't need it, I suppose.
    And also about the energy production, can 9V charge a 9.6V battery in DC?

    Any help or guidance will be deeply appreciated.
    Thank you :).
     
  2. MikeML

    AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 2, 2009
    5,450
    1,066
    The open circuit voltage from the panels (when in bright sun) needs to be about 1.5X to 2X the open-circuit voltage of the batteries you are trying to charge. Only other option is to connect the panel output to the input of a step-up Switch Mode Voltage Converter whose output is high enough to charge the batteries. NiCads are charged with a constant-current, but the voltage required will need to go as high as ~12V

    Read how to charge NiCads (and NiMh) here.
     
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  3. wayneh

    Expert

    Sep 9, 2010
    12,086
    3,024
    I agree with Mike - you'll need a DC-DC converter to boost the voltage. You can find them cheaply all over e-bay. On the upside, this is more efficient than the LM317 voltage regulator.

    Without the boost, the only way you can charge the batteries is to use a switching arrangement whereby you charge the batteries in parallel but then switch them to serial to supply the load. Since your cells are in a pack, this may not be an option.
     
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  4. donpetru

    Active Member

    Nov 14, 2008
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  5. Alec_t

    AAC Fanatic!

    Sep 17, 2013
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    I'm puzzled. Your project is a solar tracker, but the details given and your question are about battery charging ??
     
  6. ErnieM

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 24, 2011
    7,386
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    Typically once one builds a solar tracker they attach it to a solar panel.

    One application of solar panels is to charge batteries.

    OK?
     
  7. sunwarrior1993

    Thread Starter New Member

    Nov 20, 2012
    3
    0
    MikeML, wayneh and donpetru: Thank you for the information, I will definitely check out the link and the PDF file. :)

    Alec_T: Yes, my main issue was about the battery charging, but now I understand that I need a higher voltage than the input voltage produced by the solar panels, to charge the battery pack.

    I started to do some research about the Boost Converter.

    Again, I appreciate your help.

    Best regards.
     
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